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In the Zulu language sinomlando means: “We have a history”. Yet for a long time the history of Christianity in Southern Africa was usually written from a Western perspective. The Sinomlando Centre for Oral History and Memory Work in Africa started at the School of Religion and Theology, University of KwaZulu-Natal, in 1994 with the mission to add indigenous oral history to the records. Sinomlando tries to recover the silenced memories of the Christian communities, particularly those which suffered under apartheid.

Gradually, however, the scope has broadened. There is a need for oral history in all sectors of society. In 2000 the Sinomlando Centre set up its Memory Box Programme, inspired by similar projects in Uganda and Tanzania. The aim is to give psychosocial support to families and specifically to orphans affected by HIV/AIDS: The memories of families are kept in a box which contains the story of deceased relatives as well as personal objects and memorabilia. The Sinomlando Centre has since become one of the leading research and training institutions for Memory Work in South Africa.

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